What Does a Business Lawyer Do?
A business lawyer is exactly what it sounds like: a lawyer who focuses all their efforts on the things that can affect a business. From helping with taxes to negotiating international mergers to handling intellectual property claims, business lawyers such as LegalVision New Zealand lawyers are some of the most highly respected and well-paid professionals in the workforce.
Here are some of the roles a business lawyer does:
- Help new businesses get up and running
- Navigate the tax requirements for companies
- Negotiate contracts, mergers, and acquisitions
- Takes care of any broken or disputed contracts
- Advises businesses on the laws surrounding discrimination, sexual harassment, and safety at work
- Makes sure a business’s operations comply with all the necessary regulations
- Negotiate the rental, purchase and sale of property’s on behalf of a company
This is just a small sample of the roles a business lawyer can play in the workplace. As you can see, it’s a varied and dynamic role, and one that can change drastically depending on the industry in which the business operates.
So, let’s find out how much training in years it takes to become a business lawyer.
Step 1: Obtain an Undergraduate Degree
To begin with, any lawyer, no matter which country they live, will need an undergraduate degree to start down the path towards becoming a business lawyer. In the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, it needs to be a Bachelor of Law (3–4 years) If you already have an unrelated bachelor’s degree, then you will need to complete a Juris Doctorlaw degree – another 3 years.
A Bachelor of Law doesn’t exist in the USA or Canada. Instead, students are free to study any 4-year undergraduate degree. However, most will opt to study a pre-law degree before moving on to law school. Which brings us to the next step:
Step 2: Law School
For Americans and Canadians, the next step after graduating university with a bachelor’s degree is to go to law school. Generally, this is another 3 years of study. To get in, students will have to complete the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). Passing this exam is a necessity for admission into any law school in either country. Prospective students need to study hard. There’s a practice test you can take, and many people opt to use private tutors to help prepare themselves.
Once you’re in law school, you’ll really start to dig into what it means to be a practicing lawyer. There’s work experience, summer internships, and plenty of opportunities to learn from lawyers in the field.
Step 3: Sit the Bar Exam (Or Similar Certification)
After graduating from law school, students will need to sit the bar exam. The UK, Australia and New Zealand also have a similar exam to sit after graduating with a Bachelor of Law. Passing these exams will get you certified as a lawyer.
The bar exam in North America is a notoriously difficult part of becoming a lawyer. Spanning 2 days, the test differs depending on where you live (Colorado will be different to New York State, which again will be different to any of the Canadian Provinces). It’s the final step toward becoming a certified lawyer and is designed to test all the knowledge you gained during your studies.
Step 4: Build Your Experience
After passing the bar exam, it’s time to start building your work experience. The best bet for those looking to become a business lawyer is to try and get a position within a company, rather than a firm. A lot of larger companies have their own in-house team of lawyers, getting you on the first rung of the ladder on your career path towards becoming a business lawyer.
You can also build experience within a field of law (like tax or real estate) before moving over later in your career to a business. Some companies also employ firms themselves, rather than having an in-house team.
Step 5: Consider a Master’s Degree in Law
The final step towards becoming a successful business lawyer is to continue your education. After obtaining some experience, many lawyers decide to go back to university to complete a master’s degree. This is a great way to build an in-depth knowledge about business law and is sure to propel you towards a successful career.